Medical Definition of Stachybotrys

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Stachybotrys: An antigenic green-black mold that grows on wood, paper and cotton products provided there is constant moisture. Stachybotrys can produce toxic chemicals called mycotoxins that are present on spores and small fragments of the fungus released into the air. Some people have a reaction to these mycotoxins with coughing, wheezing, runny nose, irritated eyes or throat, skin rash or diarrhea. In infants, stachybotrys has been associated with pulmonary hemorrhage, which can cause bleeding in the lungs. Also called Stachybotrys chartarum or Stachybotrys atra.

In moldy hay, Stachybotrys can similarly produce mycotoxins that cause a disease called stachybotryotoxicosis in horses with fever, diarrhea, incoordination, and bleeding into internal organs. People working in contaminated areas have also been affected.

Stachybotrys and other molds can be cleaned off surfaces with commercial products or a weak bleach solution (1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water). Mold growth in the home can be slowed by keeping humidity levels below 50% and ventilating showers and cooking areas. Moldy items should be thrown away. In situations where mold exposure is unavoidable, sensitive people should wear a tight-fitting face mask.

Reference: Barnes C, Buckley S, Pacheco F, Portnoy J IgE-reactive proteins from Stachybotrys chartarum. Annals of Allergy Asthma Immunology. 2002 Jul;89(1):29-33

Reviewed on 12/11/2018


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